Session: Applying the Sort and Sift, Think and Shift Qualitative Approach to Decolonizing Knowledge on African and Asian Immigrant Youth (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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11 Applying the Sort and Sift, Think and Shift Qualitative Approach to Decolonizing Knowledge on African and Asian Immigrant Youth

Thursday, January 12, 2023: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Maryvale B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Gifty Ashirifi, Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis
Maryanne Kaboi, MSW, Indiana University School of Social Work, Eric Kyere, PhD, Indiana University, Minyoung Lim, MSW, Bethel University, Jessica Lee, PhD, Indiana University and Pious Malliar Bellian, MSW, Indiana University School of Social Work
Background and Purpose: The Sort and Sift, Think and Shift (SSTS) approach refers to an iterative qualitative data analysis process where researchers let the data be the guide (Maietta et al, 2021). SSTS draws from grounded theory, phenomenology, narrative research, and case study traditions. The presenters will describe its application to a qualitative study investigating how African and Asian immigrant adolescents understand their identity, learning environment, and social ecology; and their implications for psychosocial and academic outcomes. In this roundtable, the researchers will highlight the initial learning period, when critical analytical work takes place during the SSTS process.

Methods: This qualitative study examines processes that influence transnationalism, academic outcomes, and racial identity formation among youth of African and Asian immigrant origin. The research team used the Sort and Sift, Think and Shift (SSTS) approach (Maiette et al, 2021) and actively emphasized iterative processes. Parents (N=20) and youth (N=23) of African and Asian immigrant families participated in semi-structured interviews and focus groups to explore contextual factors (e.g., home, and school) that influence the development of youth. The presenters focus on the subset of youth transcripts from the study. Through a co-constructed process, the team reached agreement on concepts and generated a coding structure which yielded key themes.

Findings: The initial learning period in this study was a critical stage of data analysis. The research team engaged in a constructivist and collective inquiry process during this stage. The team generated 29 initial codes, which were then sorted into broader categories. The study yielded the key tertiary themes: family cohesion, parent expectations, youth expectations, school connectedness, community and peer connections, and school connectedness. From youth perspectives, parental support of ethnic and cultural identity development were enacted through direct and indirect means. Direct means included conversations about ethnic and cultural practices of the countries of origin; and indirect means involved family participation in coethnic cultural, religious activities, travel to countries of origin, consumption of ethnic food, and communication with family members to support the transnational identity development of youth. Study findings point to the phenomenon of transnational identity development among immigrant youth, and differences in racial identity formation among youth from African and Asian backgrounds.

Conclusion and Implications: The Sort and Sift, Think and Shift approach facilitated flexibility in the application of a research methodology that leans towards a decolonizing framework. The iterative process of SSTS captured participants' diverse voices that underscore their nuanced experiences. This process also enabled the heterogeneous researchers' African and Asian ethnic and national identities to enhance the collaborative critical inquiry process which privileged stakeholder-driven meaning-making. The analysts will discuss shifts, turning points, and new directions that emerged in the inquiry process and their implications for decolonizing methodologies. Implications connect to methods of more equitable knowledge-building; and strategies to expand traditional ways to generate innovative ideas that are critical to informing equity and justice-driven social work research.

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